LONG BEACH, California (KABC) — Mercedes-Benz has built a number of timeless cars over the years. Given the mild weather in Southern California, the time has been kind for Mercedes-Benz.
That’s why the only Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in the US is located in the Southland.
“We have our number one, or our top classic center in Stuttgart, in Fellbach (Germany), where the brand was born. But our second, and the second biggest and best to date, is now here in Los Angeles,” said Dimitris Psillakis, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.
Not only is it a classic center for service and restoration, but it is a brand new one, replacing the former location in Irvine that opened in 2006. The restoration team quickly grew out of the Irvine facility and was eager to move to a room with more workspace.
“It’s much bigger, it’s purpose-built, it’s much more efficient for us, and you know, we can really ramp up the business with this new facility,” said Michael Kunz, long-time manager of the operation.
The new Classic Center is located in the huge Mercedes-Benz building in Long Beach, the former McDonnell-Douglas factory. An expensive investment in the 40,000 square meter part of the larger building, but one that the company considers important.
Psilakis was in town for the ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center.
“I think classics are always classics, and the classics follow the trends of the time. So we respect our past… we live today, but we also design and take care of the future,” said Psillakis.
Mercedes-Benz likes to say that the center has parts for just about every car they’ve ever made, and if they don’t have a particular part, they have the engineering drawings going back decades and can have the part made.
Buying parts is an issue when it comes to restoring and maintaining classic cars. As older techs from the company age, figuring out who will take over those techs is challenging, but Kunz says they’re on the lookout for new talent. Kunz has hired many McPherson graduates over the years.
“It’s challenging, but we have a collaborative relationship with McPherson College in Kansas. We have quite a few students who have come through that college as interns, later employees. So that builds our talent base,” Kunz said.
There are young people getting degrees in automotive restoration from McPherson. Skilled hands that will be able to work on these cars for decades to come.
So whether your Mercedes is 30 or 100 years old, this shiny new showroom and service department is the place to keep it in great shape. But keep in mind that the work here doesn’t come cheap, as it’s essentially a Mercedes-Benz dealer for vintage rides.
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